Preseason games are a very important tool for NFL teams to determine which players are deserving of spots on final regular season rosters…here are two key players to keep an eye on when the Eagles take on the Ravens tonight to kick off their 2011 exhibition schedule:
1. MLB Casey Matthews: With Stewart Bradley now a Cardinal and the Eagles choosing not to bring in any serious competition at the middle linebacker spot, the fourth-round draft pick is slated to open the preseason (and eventually the regular season) in the lineup as part of Juan Castillo’s defensive unit. He isn’t anywhere near the type of player his older brother Clay is, but Matthews has been heralded for his instincts and knowledge of the game. He will get his first chance to prove himself as a potential starter tonight after over a week of praise at Training Camp.
2. OT Ryan Harris: Signed as a free agent during Training Camp, Harris is on track to replace the injured Winston Justice at the right tackle position, and despite some durability concerns that surfaced during his stint in Denver, the 26-year-old blocker is believed to have an ideal skill set for Howard Mudd’s O-line scheme and could prove to be an important part of the Eagles. Tonight, he’ll receive his first chance to gel with the rest of the blocking unit against a stout Ravens defense, and a solid performance might be enough to solidify a starting job in the trenches alongside the likes of rookie Danny Watkins and perennial Pro-Bowl-caliber players like Todd Herremans and Jason Peters.